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Tennessee whiskey distilleries add $3.5bn to economy

In 2022, distilleries were among the top-visited tourist attractions in Tennessee, according to a study by Tourism Economics.

Tennessee Whiskey Trail
The Tennessee Whiskey Trail is operated by the Tennessee Distillers Guild

The study, commissioned by the Tennessee Whiskey Trail, discovered that the whiskey industry brought in US$3.45 billion and eight million non-local visits last year.

These visits supported other industries, with US$2.05bn spent at distilleries and off-site establishments, including lodging, food and beverage, retail, recreation, transportation and more.

It is estimated that this money supported 30,000 jobs and created US$441.1 million in tax revenue.

The Tennessee Whiskey Trail was founded in 2017 as a collaboration between more than 30 distilleries across the state, including brands such as Jack Daniel’s, George Dickel, Uncle Nearest and more.

“Visitors from around the world make the pilgrimage each year to explore the time-honoured craft of Tennessee whiskey,” said Mark Ezell, commissioner at the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development.

“It’s an important driver of tourism, which creates revenue and jobs for all Tennesseans. We are honoured to celebrate the industry’s success alongside our partners at the Tennessee Distillers Guild today.”

Charity Toombs, executive director of the Tennessee Distillers Guild, which operates the Tennessee Whiskey Trail, added that Tennessee’s distilleries have become tourist destinations themselves.

“Tennesseans and visitors alike have a taste for our state’s spirits,” she said. “We’re proud that the Tennessee Whiskey Trail has become an exponential driver of tourism and economic impact throughout the state, and we hope to continue to grow and bring people back for more.”

Distillery tours are making an economic impact around the world. According to data from the Scotch Whisky Association, 2019 saw 2.2m visits to Scotch whisky distilleries.

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